Darwin-L Message Log 3:40 (November 1993)

Academic Discussion on the History and Theory of the Historical Sciences

This is one message from the Archives of Darwin-L (1993–1997), a professional discussion group on the history and theory of the historical sciences.

Note: Additional publications on evolution and the historical sciences by the Darwin-L list owner are available on SSRN.

<3:40>From CRAVENS@macc.wisc.edu  Sat Nov  6 13:44:12 1993

Date: Sat, 06 Nov 93 13:46 CDT
From: Tom Cravens <CRAVENS@macc.wisc.edu>
Subject: Re: Teaching the historical sciences
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu

Bob, for reconstructing events, students could also be presented with
problems requiring rule ordering in phonological history. A simple example:

In the development from Latin to Spanish, /t/ between vowels normally
evolved to /d/. Given a proto-form COMITE, describe the changes,
in chronological order, which led to the consonants of Spanish conde.


Easy bits:
	1) voicing /t/ > /d/			comide
	2) syncope (loss of unstressed -i-)	comde
And a couple of sharp students eventually will add (not in these words):
	3) assimilation of /m/ to the point
	of articulation of /t/		conde

Once they've done a few of these, you then could assign reconstruction
of proto-forms, thus time using cross-dialect comparison: Given Italian
catena, Spanish cadena, Portuguese cadeia, French chaine, reconstruct
the single form from which all four evolved.

These can be done with any language family, of course. Romance is easy,
given the Latin source, the fact that some forms will be meaningful
to students, and that examples are readily available (e.g. Boyd-Bowman, Peter.
1980. _From Latin to Romance in sound charts_. Washington: G'town U Press),
but workbooks exist which contain material from a wide range of languages,
including some which students will never have heard of.

Tom Cravens

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